GREENWICH Council looks set to continue publishing its weekly newspaper, Greenwich Time, despite a government crackdown on council publications.
Council officers have prepared a report in response to guidelines from the Department for Communities and Local Government which say councils should not publish their own newspapers more than four times a year.
The tightening of rules for council newspapers was initiated by the Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, who singled Greenwich Time out for criticism.
He told Greenwich.co.uk last year, "Councils should be focusing resources on frontline services, not running one-sided Town Hall papers that threaten the genuine local press. ‘Greenwich Time’ is one of the most blatant examples of this practice that I’ve seen, and demonstrates why tightening the rules is so necessary."
But Greenwich Council officers believe they can demonstrate continuing with a weekly newspaper would actually SAVE money. Their cost analysis claims that switching from a weekly to a quarterly publication would see the net cost of the paper per year leap from £170,000 to £2,328,760 because of the loss of third party advertising.
The report says that Greenwich Time doesn't compete for the same advertising as local newspapers because it doesn't "accept advertising from escort services, massage parlours and chat lines."
It also says that Greenwich Council would need to advertise its statutory public notices "in at least two commercial newspapers, such as the Mercury and the News Shopper, to achieve anything close to the reach of GT", which is delivered across the entire borough.
Some changes have been made to the paper already in response to the Code of Conduct. The Council's logo now appears on the frontpage and the strap line explicitly mentions Greenwich Council. It has also dropped TV listings and the crossword from its pages.
Cabinet members will consider the report by council staff at next Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.